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Australia’s plan to create a crypto competitive edge in 12 steps

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Australia’s plan to create a crypto competitive edge in 12 steps

In October 2021, the Senate Committee for Australia as a Technology and Financial Centre released its much-awaited recommendations for how cryptocurrency should be regulated. The 168-page final report boils down to 12 recommendations aimed at striking the right balance between creating legitimacy without stifling innovation. 

This is a landmark report that demonstrates Australia’s clear efforts to put itself at the forefront of crypto investment globally. The chair of the committee, Senator Andrew Bragg, believes that “Australia can be a leader in digital assets” and is confident that it can particularly “be competitive with Singapore, the UK and the US.”

Four key recommendations

First, the introduction of a range of new crypto-specific licenses and regulations. For too long, regulators around the world have been trying to put square pegs (cryptocurrency) into round holes (traditional financial regulation). This approach underestimates the fundamental differences that exist as well as the potential that digital assets have to transform the world. This report acknowledges crypto’s potential and calls for a range of bespoke cryptocurrency licenses in Australia. It recommends a specific market licensing regime for digital exchanges as well as a bespoke custody regime for digital assets. Details will still need to be fleshed out but if we get these frameworks right, then this will create the legitimacy that the sector needs to take off into the mainstream.

Second, the introduction of a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) entity type into Australian corporate law. This recommendation is a very big deal, as it shows that the Australian government is open to decentralized finance (DeFi) as well as crypto innovation. Wyoming is the only region I have heard of that has something like this in place, so this could put Australia on the front foot. If approved, DAOs could provide a unique utility that may bring the Australian economy a decade ahead into a decentralized future. However, this will also be the hardest thing for the Committee to get approved, as changes to the Corporations Act are infamously rare in Australia. If anyone can do it, it’s Senator Bragg though.

Third, improved tax rules for crypto-to-crypto transactions. Recent Finder research shows that over 17% of Australians own cryptocurrency — the third-highest rate of adoption in the world. However, this growing group has had to grapple with tax rules that are confusing at best. Historically, crypto-to-crypto transfers have been considered a capital gain by the Australian Tax Office. The new recommendation calls for tax only when there has been “a clearly definable capital gain or loss.” Again, the devil will be in the detail on this one but active Australian crypto users could be the real winners.

Fourth, new tax incentives to encourage green crypto mining. The Committee recommends a 10% company tax discount for crypto mining businesses that use renewable energy. This looks like a smart move to support two high-growth Australian industries: renewable energy and cryptocurrency. This will be especially important as the Committee tries to get these recommendations signed off against a backdrop of COP26 and rising concerns about climate change.

Related: Crypto staking rewards and their unfair taxation in the US

Three tough issues

  • Timelines for turning recommendations into law. Right now, these are all just recommendations, and are worth as much as the political will that exists to enact them. As with other countries, politics in Australia moves slowly and this will be no different. Senator Andrew Bragg is bullish that he can get all the recommendations passed in 12 months and I back him to get it done. His cause could also be supported by a growing view that crypto innovation could be a vote-winner with young Australians in a looming federal election, as nearly a third of Generation Z already own cryptocurrency.
  • Implications for crypto businesses during the pre-reform period. If it takes a year to introduce new laws then there are still questions about what crypto businesses can do in the meantime. Many submissions called for a “safe harbor” against regulation until rules had been finalized but this was not explicitly recommended by the Committee. However, the direction of travel has been set and there is clear support for crypto innovation and an acknowledgment that new rules and licenses are needed. I would be surprised if we saw much in the way of regulatory action until then.
  • Specifics for the licensing and tax proposals. Many of these recommendations were light on detail and it looks like the Australian Treasury will now lead on these matters. The industry will be very interested to know what the requirements for being a custodian or digital exchange will be, particularly when it comes to capital requirements. If there’s too much regulatory burden, then businesses will move offshore. Likewise, consumers will need more clarity on what a “clearly definable capital gain or loss” is for tax purposes. In many ways, the work starts now.

Related: Crypto makes history in 2021: Five instances of governments embracing digital assets

Learnings for governments around the world

The crypto industry is ready to talk policy. It’s fair to say that this Select Committee was inundated with engagement from crypto businesses, academics, peak bodies and regulators. More than 100 written submissions contributed and there were three full days of public hearings. It’s not often that an industry is asking for more regulation but that is what is happening here. The crypto industry around the world wants clarity and is ready to have a conversation about policy.

Broad reviews are more effective than siloed approaches. One key reason that this consultation had so much engagement was that it looked at the digital asset industry holistically rather than from one angle only. A problem we’re seeing around the world is regulators interested in looking at crypto assets from their specific regulatory view, but broad innovation shouldn’t be assessed through such a narrow lens. This consultation managed to look at the industry holistically while still getting into the specific issues. I welcome more reviews like it around the world.

Bespoke digital asset policy approaches will be needed. Digital assets have hit critical velocity and the revolution can no longer be ignored. Piecemeal changes to legacy financial services policy will not work. We need policymakers around the world to work together to create bespoke policies that are fit-for-purpose. Coinbase captures this well in pillar one of its Digital Asset Policy Proposal (DAPP). The DAPP calls for “a new framework for how we regulate digital assets” that “will ensure that innovation can occur in ways that are not hampered by the difficulty of transitioning from our legacy market structure.” These recommendations in Australia are an attempt at doing exactly that which many can learn from.

What is clear is that the world is changing. This Senate Committee in Australia should be applauded for taking a holistic approach and recommending bespoke policy instruments. It’s time for policymakers around the world to follow suit and take a broad look at their approach to digital assets.

This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and readers should conduct their own research when making a decision.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Fred Schebesta is an Australian-born entrepreneur and early-stage investor, founder of global fintech Finder, now worth over half a billion dollars. Fred recently launched blockchain investment fund Hive Empire Capital and co-founded Balthazar, a DAO platform for NFT gaming. With 22 years of experience in building businesses, Fred just released a Number One Amazon Best Selling book, Go Live! 10 Principles to Launch a Global Empire.

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Low inflation or bust: Analysts say the Fed has no choice but to continue raising rates

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Low inflation or bust: Analysts say the Fed has no choice but to continue raising rates

As economic conditions continue to worsen, financial experts worldwide are increasingly placing the blame at the feet of the United States Federal Reserve after the central bank was slow to respond to rising inflation early on.

Financial markets are currently experiencing their worst stretch of losses in recent history, and it doesn’t appear that there is any relief in sight. May 24 saw the tech-heavy Nasdaq fall another 2%, while Snap, a popular social media company, shed 43.1% of its market cap in trading on May 23. 

This past couple of months have been absolutely brutal for the markets… 8 consecutive weeks of red candles in the #SPX, #NASDAQ and #BTC… no significant bounces pic.twitter.com/hgU2VwIoxh

— Crypto Phoenix (@CryptoPheonix1) May 24, 2022

Much of the recent turmoil again comes back to the Fed, which has embarked on a mission to raise interest rates in an attempt to get inflation under control, financial markets be damned. 

Here’s what several analysts are saying about how this process could play out and what it means for the price of Bitcoin (BTC) moving forward. 

Will the Fed tighten until the markets break?

Unfortunately for investors looking for short-term relief, economist Alex Krüger thinks that “The Fed will not stop tightening unless markets break (far from that) or inflation drops considerably and for *many* months.”

One of the main issues affecting the psyche of traders is the fact that the Fed has yet to outline what inflation would need to look like for them to take their foot off the rate-hike gas pedal. Instead, it simply reiterates its goal “’to see clear and convincing evidence inflation is coming down’ towards its 2% target.”

According to Krüger, the Fed will “need to see Y/Y [year-over-year] inflation drop 0.25%–0.33% on average every month until September” to meet its goal of bringing down inflation to the 4.3%–3.7% range by the end of the year.

Should the Fed fail to meet its PCE inflation target by September, Krüger warned about the possibility that the Fed could initiate “more hikes *than what’s priced in*” and also begin exploring the sale of mortgage-backed securities as part of a quantitative tightening campaign.

Krüger said:

“Then markets would start shifting to a new equilibrium and dump hard.”

A setup for double-digit sustained inflation

The Fed’s responsibility for the current market conditions was also touched on by billionaire investor and hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, who suggested that “The only way to stop today’s raging inflation is with aggressive monetary tightening or with a collapse in the economy.”

In Ackman’s opinion, the Fed’s slow response to inflation has significantly damaged its reputation, while its current policy and guidance “are setting us up for double-digit sustained inflation that can only be forestalled by a market collapse or a massive increase in rates.”

Due to these factors, demand for exposure to stocks has been muted in 2022 — a fact evidenced by the recent decline in stock prices, especially in the tech sector. For example, the tech-heavy Nasdaq index is now down 26% on the year. 

With the cryptocurrency sector being highly tech-focused, it’s not surprising that weakness in the tech sector has translated to weakness in the crypto market, a trend that could persist until there is some form of resolution to high inflation.

Related: Bitcoin price returns to weekly lows under $29K as Nasdaq leads fresh US stocks dive

How could Bitcoin fare going into 2023?

According to Krüger, the “base case scenario for upcoming price trajectory is a summer range that starts with a rally followed by a drop back to the lows.”

BTC/USDT 1-day chart. Source: Twitter

Kruger said:

“For $BTC, that rally would take price to the start of the Luna dump (34k to 35.5k).”

Crypto trader and pseudonymous Twitter user Rekt Capital offered further insight into the price levels to keep an eye on for a good entry point moving forward, posting the following chart showing Bitcoin relative to its 200-day moving average.

BTC/USD 1-week chart. Source: Rekt Capital

Rekt Capital said:

“Historically, #BTC tends to bottom at or below the 200-MA (orange). The 200-MA thus tends to offer opportunities with outsized ROI for $BTC investors (green). […] Should BTC indeed reach the 200-MA support… It would be wise to pay attention .”

The overall cryptocurrency market capitalization now stands at $1.258 trillion, and Bitcoin’s dominance rate is 44.5%.

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph.com. Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision.

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ECB: One in ten households in eurozone population centers now own cryptocurrency

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ECB: One in ten households in eurozone population centers now own cryptocurrency

The survey took place in the EU’s major economic areas such as France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

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ECB: One in ten households in eurozone population centers now own cryptocurrency

On Tuesday, the European Central Bank, or ECB, published the results of a new survey conducted in six eurozone areas; the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Belgium, France, and Germany. Together, approximately 10% of respondents from the surveyed countries said they own cryptocurrencies. Out of this group, only 6% of respondents said they own digital assets worth more than 30,000 euros. Meanwhile, 37% of respondents said they owned up to 999 euros in crypto.

Across all of the countries surveyed, investors in the fifth income quintile (or the wealthiest 20% of the population) consistently had the highest proportion of cryptocurrency ownership relative to other income groups. The Consumer Expectation Survey asked adults aged 18 to 70 if they or anyone in their household owned financial assets in various categories, such as crypto-assets.

The survey was included in a new report published by the ECB the same day regarding the growing adoption of crypto assets despite their risk factors. As cited by the ECB, 56% of respondents in a recent Fidelity survey said they had some exposure to crypto-assets, up from 45% in 2020. Increased availability of crypto-based derivatives and securities on regulated exchanges, such as futures, exchange-traded notes, exchange-traded funds, and OTC-traded trusts, have contributed to the momentum.

In addition, increased regulation has been taken as a sign that public authorities endorse crypto. As an example, the ECB cited Germany allowing institutional funds to invest up to 20% of their holdings in crypto. However, the ECB highlighted at the end of the report that if current trends in digital asset adoption continue, then they will eventually pose a threat to financial stability.

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Weak stocks and declining DeFi use continue to weigh on Ethereum price

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Weak stocks and declining DeFi use continue to weigh on Ethereum price

Ether’s (ETH) 12-hour closing price has been respecting a tight $1,910 to $2,150 range for twelve days, but oddly enough, these 13% oscillations have been enough to liquidate an aggregate of $495 million in futures contracts since May 13, according to data from Coinglass.

Ether/USD 12-hour price at Kraken. Source: TradingView

The worsening market conditions were also reflected in digital asset investment products. According to the latest edition of CoinShare’s weekly Digital Asset Fund Flows report, crypto funds and investment products saw a $141 million outflow during the week ending on May 20. In this instance, Bitcoin (BTC) was the investors’ focus after experiencing a $154 weekly net redemption.

Russian regulation and crumbling U.S. tech stocks escalate the situation

Regulatory uncertainty weighed on investor sentiment after an updated version of the Russian mining law proposal came to light on May 20. The document in the lower chamber of the Russian parliament no longer contained the obligation for a crypto mining operators registry nor the one-year tax amnesty. As cited by local media, the legal department of the Duma stated that these measures could “possibly incur costs on the federal budget.”

Additional pressure on Ether price came from the Nasdaq Composite Index’s 2.5% downturn on May 24. In addition, the heavily-tech stock-driven indicator was pressured after social media platform Snap (SNAP) tumbled 40%, citing rising inflation, supply chain constraints and labor disruptions. Consequently, Meta Platforms (FB) shares fell by 10%.

On-chain data and derivatives are in favor of bears

The number of active addresses on the largest Ethereum network’s decentralized applications (DApps) has dropped by 27% from the previous week.

Ethereum network’s most active DApps in USD terms. Source: DappRadar

The network’s most active decentralized applications saw a substantial reduction in users. For instance, Uniswap (UNI) V3 weekly addresses decreased by 24%, while Curve (CRV) faced 52% fewer users.

To understand how professional traders, whales and market makers are positioned, let’s look at Ether’s futures market data.

Quarterly futures are used by whales and arbitrage desks due, primarily, to their lack of a fluctuating funding rate. These fixed-month contracts usually trade at a slight premium to spot markets, indicating that sellers request more money to withhold settlement longer.

These futures should trade at a 5% to 12% annualized premium in healthy markets. This situation is technically defined as “contango” and is not exclusive to crypto markets.

Ether futures 3-month annualized premium. Source: Laevitas

Related: Bitcoin price returns to weekly lows under $29K as Nasdaq leads fresh U.S. stocks dive

Ether’s futures contracts premium went below the 5% neutral-market threshold on April 6. There’s an evident lack of conviction from leverage buyers because the current 3% basis indicator remains depressed.

Ether might have gained 2% after testing the $1,910 channel resistance on May 24, but on-chain data shows a lack of user growth, while derivatives data point toward bearish sentiment.

Until there’s some morale improvement that boosts the use of decentralized applications and the Ether futures premium regains the 5% neutral level, the odds of the price breaking above the $2,150 resistance seems low.

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph. Every investment and trading move involves risk. You should conduct your own research when making a decision.

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